Usman Khawaja scored another hundred before Pat Cummins made a positive declaration to leave a target of 351
Pakistan 268 and 73 for 0 (Imam 42*, Shafique 27*) need 278 more runs to beat Australia 391 and 227 for 3 dec (Khawaja 104*, Warner 51)
The historic three-Test series is headed for a gripping finish after Pakistan reached stumps on day four at 73 for 0 with Imam 42 not out and Shafique unbeaten on 27. They survived 27 overs as Pakistan requires another 278 runs for victory with a minimum of 121 overs to be bowled in the innings.
Shafique had a major scare on the second last day when he edged legspinner Marnus Labuschagne only for a wrong footed Steve Smith at first slip to desperately snatch his left hand out in vain. It continued a torrid time for Smith at slip and heightened Australia’s nerves in the series finale after draws in Rawalpindi and Karachi.
This looms as another formidable challenge on a slow Lahore surface marked by low bounce with reverse swing and occasional sharp turn evident. History is against Pakistan with 208 runs being the highest successful fourth innings chase in Lahore while no team has survived more than 110 overs.
Up until Pakistan’s response, Australia had dominated day four after taking a first innings lead of 123.
Pakistan finally received a spark just before lunch when Shaheen Shah Afridi unleashed a spectacular delivery to uproot Warner’s off stump in an unplayable ball leaving the opener to shake the bowler’s hand on his way off.
Leading by 220 runs at lunch with nine wickets in hand, there was an expectation Australia would put the foot down in a bid to force an early declaration. As has been the case throughout the series, runs were hard to muster against the older ball although Australia didn’t particularly look in any great hurry.
With wickets hard to come by for Pakistan, dashing their hopes of a fightback, a stalemate ensued for much of the second session with attention turning to when Cummins would declare.
Labuschagne, who had made two ducks twice in his last three innings, avoided a pair and made 36 before holing out attempting to lift the rate. It finished a relatively lean series for the No.1 Test ranked batter Labuschagne, who averaged 34 and remained without a Test century away from Australia.
The acceleration was left to Khawaja who memorably reached his ton just before tea to trigger jubilant celebrations.
After a disastrous final hour on day three, where they collapsed to lose 7 for 20, Pakistan were relatively toothless with the ball and in the field but there might be one last twist left in this long-awaited series.
Aided by a sporting declaration, Imam and Shafique have made the first steps in Pakistan’s bid to conjure their second heroic fourth innings performance in just over a week.
Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth
Ref : https://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/story/1307088.html?ex_cid=OTC-RSS